Diagnosis of Common Misconceptions on Hard Disk Drive - Part 1

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December 23, 2014

Diagnosis of Common Misconceptions on Hard Disk Drive (Part 1)

The bottom line is: format a hard drive will not shorten its lifespan. Most people tend to accept a false theory that frequent disk formatting will decrease the longevity of hard drive. Formatting is not the cause of HDD failure. The slider (read/write head) does not touch the platters in the formatting process. Thus there’s no chance of physical damage on the HDD during formatting. On the other hand, shaking a hard drive when it’s still working is the real cause in many HDD failure cases. All in all, formatting has nothing to do with the physical damage on HDD. You may even format a hard drive 20 times a day and it wouldn’t shorten its lifespan.

The truth is: Defragmentation will put the scattered data together to some consecutive sectors/parts of the platters. Thus the actuator arm will only move back and forth on these consecutive sectors to read and write data after the defragmentation. This can reduce the wear level of both actuator arm and platters.

In this case, from the technical point of view, regular defragmentation is good for prolonging the lifespan of actuator arm of HDD.

Defrag HDD

If your computer tends to crash periodically and frequently, then there is a big chance that some bad sectors have been there on the HDD already. Read/write repeatedly on bad sectors will definitely result in more and more bad sectors. The reason why more bad sectors came up after each formatting, is only because that the format program has detected the bad sectors which were undetected earlier.

Outage and low power do not damage hard drive at all. The HDD nowadays are driven by electromagnetism. When power outage or low power happen, the read/write head will be stopped at an appropriate position to protect the hard disk from physical damages.

In fact, the platters will keep spinning after startup unless the user switches the system to sleep/hibernation mode.

Diagnosis of Common Misconceptions on Hard Disk Drive - Part 2